Saturday, 06 June 2020


Healthy outlook for Whitianga town centre upgrade

The works schedule for the Whitanga town centre upgrade is several weeks ahead of schedule, which is a healthy dose of good news for retailers and customers. And when it comes to maintaining a healthy outlook, you need go no further than Whitianga's Unichem Stephensons Pharmacy on the corner of Albert Street and Blacksmith Lane. It's one of the businesses affected due to the main street being closed to vehicle traffic while construction works progress.

Owned by John and Jenny Stephenson for the past 39 years, Whitianga's Unichem Stephensons Pharmacy is a support line for many residents as it supplies essentials like prescriptions, vaccinations, blood testing and other health care services. With 12 staff including 3 pharmacists and 2 technicians, Unichem Pharmacy is a place where people often come first to discuss an issue. "We do one-on-one consultations and if we can't sort it we'll send the customer to the doctor," says John. And the business is open 7 days a week over the peak summer period.

When John and Jenny first started the business one of the first things they did was install a mini-photo lab. "We’ve seen a lot of transformations in this part of the business with technology changing so dramatically," explains John. "So much is being done digitally, but we're keeping up with it and the photography section of our store is still very popular," he says.

When it comes to change, John says what pharmacists can now provide compared to doctors has been a real revolution. "We can prescribe for things like oral contraception and erectile dysfunction," says John. "We're also trained to give vaccinations for things like flu and whooping cough, prescribe blood thinning medications and do blood testing."

And John and his team are not adverse to change when it comes to the town centre upgrade. "While it's has meant more noise and the building has had a few shakes with all the heavy machinery, overall the impact to our business has been minimal," says John. "Dempsey Wood, the company doing the work, have been brilliant to deal with - they come in regularly to keep us up to date and we're extremely pleased that the work is also weeks ahead of schedule."

A special mention about John and Jenny should be made for their outstanding contribution to the Mercury Bay community in their 39 years of owning the pharmacy. John has spent 30 years with the Whitianga Lions Club and just had his 39th year with the Mercury Bay Aero Club where he graciously accepted the honour of becoming a life member. The couple are also long-standing sponsors of the local golf club. John says he has more recently turned his focus to the Mercury Bay Community Fund which helps manage pensioner flats in Kennedy Ave. He's been involved with the fund for the past eight years.


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